Sarah Stultz: Amid tragedy and horror, there were heroes

Published 10:00 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

I, like many others, woke Monday morning to a story of horror coming out of Las Vegas.

A gunman had shot and killed at least 50 people, and more than 400 more were injured. It was already being labeled as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

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The people killed were attending a concert with country music singer Jason Aldean. I have heard varying reports, saying there were between 20,000 and 40,000 people attending the concert. I can only imagine the sheer terror people must have felt as a hailstorm of bullets came down on them.

The shooter, identified as 64-year-old resident Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, unleashed the gunshots from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. Reports stated he had as many as 10 guns with him when SWAT teams stormed his hotel room.

As I write this, it is unclear why Paddock did this. Hopefully many answers will emerge as police continue to investigate.

As I watched details of this unfold on the national news Monday morning, I thought back to some of the other mass shootings that have happened that stick out to me from recent history.

There was the shooting in April 2007 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, which is only about an hour away from where I grew up. In that shooting, a 23-year-old student killed 32 people and injured many others before killing himself.

There was the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 children and six adults. The shooter in that case also committed suicide.

There was also the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in which Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and injured 32.

Unfortunately, I could go on and on about many others that have taken place in my lifetime.

I’m sure the most recent shooting in Las Vegas will again bring up the ongoing debate of what can be done to prevent something like this from happening again in the future. There will be discussions about gun laws, mental health and other issues, and I’ll be the first to say I don’t know what the answer is.

While I have been captivated to hear what has happened in Las Vegas, what has stuck out to me most, however, is to hear the stories of the heroes. Those people who drove the wounded in their own vehicles to the hospitals. People who protected their siblings from gunshots.

There were people who used the shirts off their backs to help stop the bleeding of others who had been shot. There were police officers who shielded people from gunfire and others plugging wounds of the injured.

In the aftermath, people flocked to blood banks Monday morning and could be seen in photographs lined up out the door, waiting to do their part to help others.

While it’s easy to focus on the bad things of these shootings — and they can in no way be ignored — we can all learn from the inspirational stories of the brave men and women in our country who put their own lives on the line for others.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.